Monday, June 13, 2011


I spotted some tarpon-sized shadows cruising along a nearby beachhead that happened to be the spot where I caught my first and second tarpon ever. Since that time, about 15 months ago, I had not seen another fish in that area. This day, they were back and I went there to meet them.

There was a large school of small fry huddled up along the beach, trying to shelter themselves from the death that came at them from everywhere. There is a local saying - "The fry have no friends." They were hit by pelicans and brown boobies, roseate and royal terns. Horse-eye jacks, barjacks and needlefish as well as the occasional tarpon.

I threw some toads and bunnies at them, but didn't even score a look. They were swamped with the fry and didn't care to try for anything else.

I went home and tied up some fry patterns with UV knot sense. I let them cure in the sunlight as I tied up some longer leaders.

The darkness is a huddled mass of a billion scared baitfish.

Death from above.

I think watching pelicans cannonball into the water will never get old. They're so ungainly but so good at what they do. Since moving here, I have learned to read the body language of these birds.

If they hit the water and keep their head under, they've got a mouthful of food and are siphoning out the water before swallowing.

If they hit the water and immediately begin backpedalling away from the entry point, there is something below them, either tarpon, bonefish or jacks, that are cleaning up the bird's stunned leftovers. It is near these birds that I try to place my flies.

Some birds are assholes. This laughing gull has learned to stand on the head of a pelican until it panics and spits out it's catch.

I struggled for any action. One tarpon inhaled my fly but it was nearly at my feet and I couldn't strip set. I waited for him to turn away but he regurgitated the fly before he got into position. As I walked back to the car, the groundskeeper, Clifford, came up to me and told me I was wasting my time. He said that I had to get there in the early morning, before "they tummy done full up!"

He was right. The fish were satiated. I had to re-plan my attack.


Dustin's Fly Box said...

those are some crazy amazing pictures

Unknown said...

"Some birds are assholes." - That made my night. I laughed my ass off at that...and was really surprised the gulls do that to get the pelicans to spit up their fish.

Out of curiosity, what island are you calling home?

Keep up the great writing & fishing, fellas; you guys have one of my favourite sites on my blogroll!


Tom said...

Awesome pics and story Matt.

e.m.b. said...

Absolutely incredible photos of those birds! And I agree with Mat...your writing made my night.

VICTOR said...

Fantásticas fotos, de una gran dificultad de hacer enhorabuena.